Dear Car Talk:
If you could help us figure this out, we’d appreciate it soooo much. During the summer, we love to sleep with the windows open for fresh air (in the house, not in the car). But every night, we are disturbed by a very rapid horn at a high pitch going “beep beep beep beep beep beep” at least six times (my husband hears seven beeps) in the space of 1 second. It scares us both awake every time. We live in a dense, otherwise quiet neighborhood with small lots, so there are lots of potential culprits’ vehicles parked around our home. Do you know of a vehicle security system or other weird thing that could be malfunctioning? We’re pretty sure it is an involuntary thing on this car, and not triggered by the owner’s key fob, because no cars drive off and no doors are slammed shut afterward. Any ideas? We’d love to chat with this beeping-car person. Thanks a bunch. — Cheryl
I think it’s an alarm system that’s being armed by the driver’s key fob, Cheryl.
One of your neighbors gets home very late, and gets out and closes his car door, which you sleep through. Then he uses his key fob to lock the door, which triggers the “alarm is armed” sound, which wakes you out of your dream about Matthew Mc- Conaughey.
Fortunately, most factory installed alarms can be programmed to not sound the horn or the alarm chirp when activated. They often can be programmed to do nothing, or to just flash the parking lights to let the owner know the car is locked and alarmed.
So you’re going to have to do some detective work and figure out who the culprit is, so you can ask him to reprogram his alarm!
I’d employ some modern technology. You want to get a webcam; they’re cheap these days. People use them to spy on their dogs while they’re at work now, so they can come home and say: “I know you got into the garbage, Huey. I saw you on the webcam.” As if the tippedover garbage can and the week’s worth of garbage strewn all over the Oriental rug isn’t enough of a clue.
Anyway, I think you should set up this webcam on your front porch or in a street-facing window. Point it in one direction one night, and in the other direction the next night. See what you catch. Most alarm systems do also flash the car’s lights when they are engaged, so you should be able to see it.
Then you need to leave a note on the car and hope the owner is a humanitarian.
Hey, who knows, maybe he’s trying to sneak home after carousing late at night without waking up his wife, and he’ll be thrilled to know he can silence the car, too?
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(c) 2015 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.